Hotel Review: A Deluxe Room at Hotel am Steinplatz, Autograph Collection, in Berlin
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There have been phenomenal business-class airfare sales from Europe to the US in recent months, including from Berlin (TXL) to New York (JFK) on SkyTeam carriers. I was able to purchase a ticket for $1,400 round-trip that aligned perfectly with the dates of the end of one trip and the start of another to Europe. That’s how I found myself with a free night to spend in the German capital, so I started looking around for hotels.
Thanks to the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express, which both let me earn two stays and five nights of credit toward elite status annually, I have no trouble maintaining my SPG Gold status each year. And thanks to the Marriott-Starwood merger, I was also able to match that status to Marriott Rewards Gold. Those are my two main hotel programs at the moment, so when it came time to look for a hotel for my one-night stay in Berlin, I concentrated my search on properties from these brands.
Because it was just going to be a quick trip, I was looking for a hotel that would be easily accessible from Berlin Tegel Airport (TXL) and close to a restaurant where I wanted to have dinner. My best bet was the area around the Zoologischer Garten Station. While Starwood has some interesting options from the Design Hotels group, I found myself looking more and more at a hotel in Marriott’s Autograph Collection, the historic Hotel am Steinplatz. Though Marriott and Starwood do not yet allow you to combine your stays at both chains toward elite status with one program or the other, I figured a single night wouldn’t derail my elite strategy for the rest of the year — instead of staying at a Starwood property, I went for Marriott one instead.
Marriott has five properties here, including the Berlin Marriott Hotel, the Courtyard Berlin City Center, the MOXY Berlin Ostbanhof, the Ritz-Carlton Berlin and the Hotel am Steinplatz, Autograph Collection. Of those, the most convenient for me was the Hotel am Steinplatz. It also looked more deluxe and full of character than the Marriott and comparable to the Ritz-Carlton for a lot less money. With just 84 rooms and three suites, it was more like a boutique luxury property than a chain hotel, which also drew me to it.
A few weeks ahead of my stay, rates were running at 230 euros ($258 at the time) versus 195 euros ($219) at the Marriott and 299 euros ($337) at the Ritz-Carlton. That rate could also be cancelled up until the day before, so I went ahead and made it, figuring I could check back before I went to see if the rates had dropped. Sure enough, about five days before my stay, rates at the Hotel am Steinplatz had dropped to 191 euros ($215 at the time) per night for a standard deluxe room, while those at the Ritz-Carlton had remained at 299 euros and the Marriott had shot up to 215 euros ($242). I canceled my previous booking and rebooked the room at the lower rate, which saved me $43.
The hotel was a Marriott Category 7 property where award nights were available for 35,000 points each, but I could get better values from the program than that, so I decided just to pay for the room outright. I was able to earn 10x points per dollar with Marriott, plus a 25% Gold elite bonus, for a total of 2,688 Rewards points. I paid for my stay with my Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, earning a further 3x points per dollar on travel for an additional 645 Ultimate Rewards points, which could also be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to Marriott Rewards. Thanks to the brand's current points promotion, I also had the chance to earn 2,000 bonus points per stay at different brands within the Marriott portfolio if I completed a second stay by September 4.
Check-In and Lobby
I landed in Berlin around 7:00pm and caught the X9 bus to the busy Zoologischer Garten Station. The ride took about 20 minutes and cost 2.80 euros (~$3.21) each way. From the station, I walked about five minutes west along a main road called Hardenbergstrasse into the heart of the Charlottenburg area and arrived at the hotel. It's also about a 10-minute walk from Berlin's famous shopping street, Kurfürstendamm, convenient for those who are interested in the designer shops there.
Just a quick note to anyone else who plans on staying here: When I was there in May, there was a ton of construction going on along the stretch of Hardenbergstrasse that's right in front of the hotel and it seemed to be causing a traffic delay — if you plan to take taxis, I'd factor in some extra time just in case.
The hotel sits near one of the corners of the Steinplatz, a small plaza and park across from Berlin’s Arts University. The park itself was a pretty little place with a green lawn, flower bushes, trees and two monuments — one dedicated to the victims of Stalinism, the other, to the victims of the Nazis.
Located on the southeastern corner of the park, it's interesting to look at, thanks to its slightly greenish hue, flowery embellishments and Moorish arches that melded Art Nouveau and Jugendstil architectural styles.
The hotel originally opened in 1913 and featured whimsical, historical touches including vintage photographic prints and monitors in the halls and elevators flashing tidbits about the hotel’s storied past — among its famous guests were Brigitte Bardot and Vladimir Nabokov. The property was renovated and reopened in 2013 as a luxury boutique hotel with a contemporary aesthetic. It has 84 rooms and three suites.
Reception was just through a door to the right of the main entrance. It consisted of two desks, both of which were manned by agents. There was no one waiting in line when I went to check in.
I stepped right up, gave my name and a desk clerk replied that they’d been expecting me, were delighted to have me at the hotel and that they’d been able to upgrade me to a deluxe room. But wait, wasn’t that the same room I’d already booked? She explained that the room was on the top floor (European fifth, American sixth) and looked out over the Steinplatz. I found the use of the word “upgrade” to be disingenuous in this case, but didn’t say so — it's a pet peeve of mine when hotel agents claim to have upgraded you to a nicer room when all they mean is it’s a floor higher.
Meanwhile, she also noted my Marriott Gold status and asked if I’d prefer to have a free breakfast or 750 bonus points. Knowing how expensive breakfast in European hotels can be and not wanting to have to forage for myself in the morning, I opted for breakfast this time — the right choice considering 750 Marriott Rewards points are worth about $6.75 in TPG’s current valuations. She gave me a breakfast certificate, noting the following day’s date and my room number and with that, I was handed my key and sent on my way to the elevators — they were just around the corner through a living room-like area with a fireplace and chairs.
There were bookshelves along one wall stocked with art books and curios, as well as an entrance to the hotel’s inner courtyard.
Next to the fireplace was a single workstation with a printer, so I had the front desk print out a boarding pass for me.
I took the elevators up to the fifth floor.
It was just enough time to read some fun facts about the hotel.
My room was just down the hall from the elevator on the corner of the building.
I was pleasantly surprised by the how much space there was, with high ceilings and large windows letting in a lot of light. Though contemporary, the décor reflected the hotel’s 1920s heyday with Art Deco textures and finishes.
The door didn’t have a peephole, but it did have an electronic monitor that you could turn on with the touch of a button.
Just to the right of the door, there was a small closet.
Next to that was a little bar area with an Illy coffee maker and a safe.
Above that was the mini-bar, stocked with beverages like local soda, beer and German wine.
Along the opposite wall was a vintage photograph of what looked like ladies of the night plying their craft, or at least glammed-up flappers.
Along the left-hand side was the desk, and above that was a wall-mounted flat screen television.
The desk had a flip-out panel with an electrical outlet, USB plugs and a LAN internet connection, though Wi-Fi was free.
I found a note from the hotel’s manager waiting for me on the desk bidding me welcome to the hotel.
Next to the desk was a large, cream-colored leather armchair with a floor lamp behind it and an ottoman. There were large windows along the wall, and I liked that you could actually open them and get some fresh air — they were soundproof, too, so I didn’t hear any of the traffic or construction below. There were also blackout shades, which were electronically controlled by a switch closer to the bed.
The king-size bed was dressed in white linens with plenty of pillows and a leather headboard that matched the armchair. It had a mirrored panel above it that was criss-crossed by a branch-like pattern.
The bed was firm but comfortable, and I got a good night’s sleep.
Deluxe rooms were listed at 22 to 30 square meters (or 237 to 323 square feet) and mine was on the larger side of that range, with a lot of empty floor space in the middle. I liked the angled ceiling as well, which came courtesy of being on the top floor.
The bathroom was just next to the bed through a mirrored sliding door. There was a single white sink with a black granite countertop.
In an age where hotel bathrooms seem to be getting darker and darker, I liked the vanity mirror, which had embedded lights.
There were colorful Etro bath products waiting for me, which was a nice, luxurious touch as well.
The WC with a toilet was to the left of the sink. I thought it was a fun touch that even the toilet paper came in Etro's bright colors.
The walk-in shower, meanwhile, was to the right and had both wall-mounted and overhead shower heads.
Overall, I found the room to be large and comfortable.
Food and Beverage
As I mentioned, I had planned dinner at a fantastic restaurant called Glass, with five-, seven- and nine-course prix-fixe menus and just down the street from the hotel. I do regret not having dinner at the hotel’s Restaurant am Steinplatz, which had its own entrance off Uhlandstraße, just down the block from the hotel’s entrance.
The space at Restaurant am Steinplatz was lovely, with beautiful tables and an open kitchen. There were also tables in the glassed-in atrium that ran along the courtyard. In the morning, there were tables outside, too.
The menu, created by Michelin-starred chef Stefan Hartmann, was seasonal. Among the new starters were Norwegian fjord trout with beets, lemon and little oxalis flowers, and fresh asparagus with almonds and walnuts in a vinaigrette. The mains that most intrigued me were the pork cheek and belly with carrot and beer-battered onions, and fresh-caught pike perch with green asparagus, jalepeño and green tomatoes. Prices were reasonable, with main courses costing around 20 to 30 euros ($23 to $34).
The bar was its own separate space from the restaurant, though you could reach it from the same street entrance, a door through the front of the restaurant or from the hotel lobby. Though the décor was quite conservative — except for the lit-up white-onyx bar, of course — the cocktail list seemed cutting-edge. I later learned that it was given the award for Best Hotel Bar at the 2017 Mixology Bar Awards for Europe.
The cocktails did not have names; instead, the menu was illustrated with drawings of the drinks and their ingredients, along with descriptors like silky, sweet and fresh.
Among the specialties were one with Antica Formula vermouth, mint, lemon and orange verbena, and another with Sierra Milenario tequila, lime, coriander and saffron dashi. There were also wines by the glass from all over the world, and a fairly lengthy list of German craft beers. Interestingly, the bar had an exclusive partnership with the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, so there was a unique selection of single-cask whiskies on hand. I took a whiff of the Islay (though I didn’t imbibe) and it was a heady representation of the region.
The following morning, I came downstairs for my free breakfast and took a seat outside in the courtyard since it was sunny and warm that day. Guests could choose from hot and cold buffet spreads. There was a nice mix of fruit...
My certificate also entitled me to order a la carte and I opted for the Strammer Max, which included fried free-range eggs on toasted brown bread with shaved Berlin ham, which was kind of like lean prosciutto.
Since the full breakfast would have normally cost 35 euros, my elite status gave me an extra $40 in value.
The hotel’s two other main features, the spa and fitness center, were both on the top floor at the other end of the hallway from my room.
I went to have a look around 8:00pm and found the entire place deserted. The spa's reception area had a desk and a two-story atrium with a sofa to sit on if you were waiting for your appointment to begin.
The main family of products they used came from French marine spa brand, Thalgo.
While I didn’t have time to get a treatment, I looked at the menu. On offer were Lomi Lomi massages, an Abhyanga Indian massage, anti-aging and aromatherapy facials and a “Greta Garbo Pampering Experience” that included a body scrub with a body wrap, a moisturizing face mask and a cup of lemon-mint tea, among other options.
There were locker rooms, as well as a whole hammam section with both a low- and high-heat sauna, open showers for scrubbing off and tiled benches with individual foot baths for lounging.
Upstairs was a small relaxation area.
The gym was also up there.
It had a few cardio and weight machines, but nothing too fancy, though the views of the city rooftops were nice from here.
The Hotel am Steinplatz perfectly suited my needs for my one-night stop in the city. Not only was the hotel affordable and part of one of my preferred points programs, but the location was perfect for a quick back-and-forth from Berlin's Tegel Airport. The staff members I met were all extremely polite and friendly — not to mention efficient — and the room was spacious, clean and nicely appointed. Little luxury touches like Etro products and Thalgo spa treatments all gave this boutique property a feeling of exclusivity and uniqueness. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to others, or to stay again myself, for that matter.
Have you stayed at the Hotel am Steinplatz in Berlin? Tell us about your experience, below.
All photos by the author.
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